“The world is shaped by two things: stories told, and the memories they leave behind.” – Vera Nazarian
Myths, legends and stories have been around for millennium, burning their way through the shadows of history like a candle that cannot be blown out. Most of us remember the joy of storytelling. We fought off the pirates with Peter Pan, we discovered Narnia alongside Lucy Pevensie, we explored islands with Robinson Crusoe and have tumbled down the rabbit hole with Alice to have tea with the mad hatter.
Stories connect us. They withstand the never-ending pull of time, travelling across oceans and defying languages in ways that not much else can. Storytelling takes us out of our everyday lives and transports us to a place of adventure, mystery, love and heartbreak, all the while we bear witness to an ancient tradition that has been partially forgotten. It takes us back to the fires of our forefathers and delivers us back to a time of war, sadness and immense joy. Stories open us up to places we could only dream of going and to people we never even knew existed.
In many ancient traditions, the art of telling stories and keeping their secrets safe, fell into the lap of the professional storytellers. It was their sole task to carry the history and the mythology of their culture around in their heads with thousands of thousands of stories being passed down from generation to generation and told from parent to child. These storytellers had a name and for every culture the name was different. In the Nordic culture, where tales of ancient gods, creation and family feuds danced around kitchen fires, the storytellers were known as the Skalds.
The Skalds, like most storytellers of their time, held a place of high ranking, as they were both loved and feared by society. They were the historians, the teachers and the guides and held the ability to tarnish a King’s reputation with their poetry and deep ancient knowledge of history and literature.
The Skalds could make history come to life again. The Gods and Goddesses were painted in vivid, bright colours and the stories, no matter how many times they were told, never lost their excitement or surprise. During cold winter nights, the Skalds would be welcomed into any home, and would warm the hearts and souls of their audience better than any hot meal could ever hope for. On nights when the world would rage outside, the ice giants would dance in fireplaces, Thor and his hammer would take on the sky and the wonderfully scandalous trickster Loki would have audiences gasping in fear and laughter all at the time. Warnings were given, messages passed on and in learning the mistakes of those before them, those mistakes were never made again.
Most Norse stories were centered around the tree of life, Yggdrasil, that connected the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology. The Gods were viewed as the sculptures of humanity. The Goddesses has their own powers and were just as highly praised as their male counterparts. Thor and his hammer, “Mjolnir”, tamed the skies, beautiful Freyja with her feathered cloak and Odin with his one eye.
Through the ancient art of oral storytelling, we can understand that stories are not just in novels, covered in dust and shoved to the back of a library shelf. They are more than the characters, the plot and the number of chapters. Stories are about community and sharing, about coming together and creating memories and meaning. They are about passing down history and secrets to those generations taking their first tottering steps on our beautiful earth. Stories are more than words on a page. They are the maps and guidelines to our long-forgotten history.
Join us on a journey into the deep mystical world of story and sound on Friday 7th June 2019 at 7pm as we dive into Nordic Myths – Tales From The Tree of Knowledge and gather with us after the event for the finale, the feast, the sharing. This will be an evening not to be missed!